zig zag


How to solve a problem creatively?

We all have problems to solve in our lives. If we see creativity as new ways of problem-solving, how creative are we? We can be creative in a zig-zag way as suggested in the book Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity. When I take the zig-zag approach to solve my problems, will the results be different? Here’re the 8 steps (the key zig-zag concept from the book) that I take to improve my core strength. I hope this can help reduce my lower back pain.


Ask questions no one has thought of before

How to build a habit of exercising 30 mins or more daily? How to exercise and have fun at the same time? How to train my core daily without getting bored? How to keep fit every day? How to maintain an everyday exercise routine? How to build strong core muscles with progress and without spending too much money? How can I keep practicing core exercises for at least a year?


Learn from a mentor. Practice deliberately and get a deep understanding.

What I have learned by googling my questions is that core muscles are not just about the abdominals. The core also includes the obliques, glutes and lower back. I have collected a series of core exercises for strengthening the core. I also saved many yoga classes for core strength on Youtube.

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Look with fresh eyes and mindfulness. The way you look at the world determines how creative you can be.

I see a strong core as my strong motive to exercise daily now. My lower back pain problem becomes an opportunity for me to learn yoga and lead a healthy and zen lifestyle. I feel and listen to my body more closely. With new perspectives, I see life differently. Well-being becomes my top priority. Fitness is a part of my lifestyle.


Free your mind to wander and get into a relaxed state.

Play is about doing other things for a while when we get stuck at solving a problem. When I feel exhausted at a challenge, shifting my focus to something else is a great way to get new inspirations.


The best way to come up with creative ideas is to come up with lots of ideas.

We can generate lots of ideas by setting an idea time and quota. Say, I set 10 mins to think of 10 ideas each day. Idea 1: Pick one sport (i.e. yoga) to practice for a year. Idea 2: Practice different sports quarterly. Idea 3: Form a fitness group to exercise daily together. Idea 4: Have a fitness buddy. Idea 5: Join meetup about fitness. Idea 6: Join the gym. Idea 7: Play video games about fitness (i.e. Ring Fit Adventure). Idea 8: Join a fitness boot camp. Idea 9: Record the daily exercise in a journal. Idea 10: Report daily exercise results to a friend. Idea 11: Focus on doing exercise that can train the core. Idea 12: Have a sporty vacation overseas. Idea 13: Exercise 30 mins every morning on weekdays. Idea 14: Exercise one hour over the weekends. Idea 15: Hire a personal trainer. Idea 16: Follow different videos on youtube to exercise. Idea 17: Play VR sports games Idea 18: Participate in sporty events.


If you start with unrelated things, you’re almost guaranteed to be more creative. Get inspiration from nature. Imagine you’re the objects of your challenge. Talk to someone different.

I imagine I am the core muscle. How would I like to grow? I like to have a nice view of nature while training. I want to train with other core muscles to have fun together, too.


Go for simple, elegant, robust. Even after you’ve selected a great idea, there’s always room for improvement.

For my lower back pain problem, I choose a one-year exercise plan as below. Jan: Yoga class daily; Feb-Apr: Ring Fit Adventure daily; May-Jun: swimming/tennis weekly + core yoga daily; Jul-Oct: surfing overseas/wake surfing weekly + core yoga daily; Nov-Dec: hiking weekly + core yoga daily.


I started to execute my one-year exercise plan from Jan 2020. I have practiced yoga for 20 days in Jan. Now I’m having fun with Ring Fit Adventure every day. I’m excited to exercise at least 30 mins daily in a fun way. It’s so fun that I can’t help playing more and more until exhausted. This video game is such a great idea to make people exercise more. I’m loving it and can’t wait to play more! It works for me so well. I hope the rest of the plan will go well, too.

What problems are you trying to solve at the moment? You can try the zig-zag way to see if you can come up with new solutions that work for you.

Creative doing!

43 thoughts on “zig zag

  1. Sometimes we lose the positive value of walking away to gain new insight and new energy. Instead we walk away convinced that we must be finished because we have come to a place where progress has ceased. Very informative post with practical, relatable application.

      1. Nice, Helen!

        Your overall message is valuable, but your emphasis on strengthening the core muscles is especially important. People don’t realize what a difference that can make in facilitating everyday tasks and improving balance and preventing falls—especially as we age.

  2. This is so positive. Looking at things differently is such a good way to solve a problem or even change your outlook on the problem. It’s great that you are finding other solutions to back pain rather than the usual doctor recommended course of action. That’s a long term gain for sure! 😁🌴

  3. Thank you for this. It’s great the way you modeled how to work through a problem with this process. I want to read the book now 🙂

  4. Thank you Helen. Appreciate the Inspiration and insight. So important to generate these new ideas. And then of course follow through. Otherwise life just gets too stagnant. I definitely need to do this more. I hope your lower back issue will improve soon.

  5. Mindfulness is so important. When I relax and really look straight at things instead of glancing back and forth between them and a device of some sort, I absorb a lot more and start understanding a lot more. Such a great lesson and a good list! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Thank you for stopping by my site and for your book suggestions. As a veteran English teacher, I have enjoyed many books, however, this year I am specifically focusing on inspiring and informative books. This one sounds fitting. I am not familiar with this author, so thanks for the review. 📚❤️

  7. Ten ideas in ten minutes? Wow! I’ll have to try that strategy. Thinking under a bit of time pressure might jump start the creativity engine. Thanks for the tip, Helen!

  8. Amazing post! Loved the zig-zag way!

    I also believe that fitness should be part of lifestyle and must be a top priority..

    I have chosen “Dance form for fitness”. Everyday 30 minutes, I do this. I love dancing with music, it gives me fun as well..fitness + fun.. doing Aerobics form of dance exercise nowadays!

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